Ad Of The Month

Spring Cleaning Finds!

South-East Asia: McDonald's


Global coverage of McDonalds’ Lunar New Year plans focused on their decision to celebrate it in “the metaverse”, a gimmick which got the brand the required headlines. But in the actual countries celebrating the Year Of The Tiger, the brand’s activities were rather more traditional. In Singapore, McDonalds’ released a series of ads starring a child actor as Xiao Cai Shen, the “Little God Of Fortune”, linked to a prize promotion.

In this first one, the Xiao Cai Shen character helps his family out with their spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, as the whole family do their bit to clear out old and unwanted items which might bring bad luck. Of course, a side effect of this is that it also uncovers lost possessions which bring back good memories, and that’s what this ad centers on.

Xiao Cai Shen is based on a Chinese folk deity who represents finding treasures. Aside from his introduction and traditional costume, though, this child is very much an ordinary kid and part of a family. He’s the heart of the ad and his lively performance keeps it moving along. He helps find an antique vase, an old photo and some letters from a grandparent, all of which lead the family to happily reminisce about old times and previous New Year celebrations.

It’s a simple narrative, and most of the happiness comes from the associations and memories it sparks in viewers. It’s also an ad in which the McDonalds brand is hardly featured – only at the end does the familiar jingle and the tagline “My Happy Place” appear. This accounts for its unusually low Fluency for a major brand.

Despite that, the ad works well at creating positive feeling – the inter-generational story generates a lot of happiness and the commercial ends up with a strong 4.0-Star score. The choice of a child to introduce and star in the ad also reflects one of McDonalds’ strengths in the market – its one of the few Quick Service Restaurant chains to have won real popularity with children thanks partly to its Happy Meal promotions and free toys. Perhaps those toys will end up becoming the next generation’s spring cleaning treasures.